How Do the 'Blurred Lines' Lyrics Stack Up With the Words of Rapists?

One writer's done a disconcerting line-by-line analysis of Robin Thicke's lyrics alongside images of rape victims holding up signs of things their attackers said during their assaults.
Publish date:
September 18, 2013
rape, feminism, music, photography, blurred lines, robin thicke

"Blurred Lines": I loathe its message, but I'll admit -- I've Spotified that sh*t more than once (it's nothing if not painfully catchy). Now summer's no.1 "kind of rapey" hit that won't die is under the microscope again, this time in a line-by-line takedown at Sociological Images. The piece contrasts the song's lyrics with images of real-life women who have been raped -- and the result is pretty disturbing.The women (and one man) in each picture -- originally from an online photo essay exhibit called Project Unbreakable -- are holding up signs of phrases their rapists said before, during, or after their assaults. Those words are unnervingly similar to some of Robin Thicke's lyrics about what he apparently sees as a hazy grey area between consensual sex and rape."You're a good girl," one Thicke lyric, is offset with images of both a man and a woman holding up signs -- the woman's says, simply, "good girl," while the man's reads, "Be a good girl, don't say anything, OK?" Apparently, for "good girls," silence means "yes" -- but "no" actually means "yes," too. SO CONFUSING.

Also, as the writer at Sociological Images notes, calling an adult a “good girl” in this context plays into the vile and disturbingly common virgin/whore thing, used to reduce women's sexualities to a base, colorless either/or scenario. "Blurred Lines" seems to imply that a woman who isn't receptive to a dude's advances (which are irresistible, obvs) is just hiding her lust under a feigned front of disinterest. Thicke's lyrics also highlight the idea that a woman is too clueless and small-minded to actually know herself well enough to determine what the hell she wants -- so she'd best just lay back and let a man figure it out for her (with his penis, of course). Men always know best!

This idea is offset with an image of a woman holding a sign over her face that reads, "The next day he told me 'you said no but your body told me yes.' I thought it was my fault. He was 28, I just turned 18…"

Another lyric, "The way you grab me. Must wanna get nasty," is paired with an image of a woman's sign reading, "You can't have a drink with someone and expect this not to happen." Because a woman who goes for drinks with a guy, or wears a skirt to a bar, or walks home alone, or gives her number out, or smiles, or what the hell ever, is always CLEARLY asking for it -- right? Yes indeed, according to victim-blaming rapists (and possibly Robin Thicke?).

Also, per Thicke's masterpiece, women love being hurt in the name of sex -- we want to be treated like shit, see: "Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you. He don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that." (Of course, some women DO enjoy pain during sex, and there's nothing wrong with that -- but certainly not all of them, and not when it's nonconsensual.) That lyric is illustrated with a particularly discomfiting woman's sign that reads, "Stop pretending that you are a human being." Um, not much else to say about that one; I think I need to vomit now.

Check out the rest of the story (and prepare to spew, yourself, with this one: "I’ll give you something to tear your ass in two"). Yes, I know they're just song lyrics. And yes, I know Thicke might not have written them with the intention of promoting rape. That doesn't mean he's not aware of (or responsible for) his words, and the severely skewed message they send about sex and consent. As he admitted to GQ, "People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women'."

He sure has a funny way of showing it.

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